Failures of the League of Nations in the 1930s

The failures of the League in the 1930s were not only because of aggressor nations undermining its authority, but also down to its own members.

Britain and France, the two most influential members, ignored the League in their efforts to appease Hitler - actions that arguably led to the outbreak of the Second World War.

Significant failures

In the 1930s, the world economic depression encouraged nations to be more aggressive towards each other. Fascist dictatorships took power in Germany, Italy and Japan, which were intent on empire-building and these countries defied the League.

  • Japan conquered Manchuria in 1932. The League objected, but could do nothing. When the League supported China, Japan left the League.
  • Hitler announced that Germany was leaving the League in 1932.
  • Italy invaded Abyssinia in 1935. Although the League officially condemned the Italians, France and Britain were caught making a secret agreement to give Abyssinia to Italy.

These crises destroyed the authority of the League, and it was powerless to stop Germany after 1935. By the time of the Sudeten crisis of 1938, Britain and France were ignoring the League, and were trying appeasement instead.

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